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America 7, James Lipton 4, Mr. Lipton 3, At&t 3, Washington 3, Obama 3, Alex 2, Geico 2, Febreze Stick & Refresh 2, New York 2, Hawaii 2, Hollywood 2, 3m 2, Bradley Cooper 2, Brock 1, Jacob Weissburg 1, Howard Wolfson 1, Jennifer Lawrence 1, Andrea Mitchell 1, Lauren 1,
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  MSNBC    NOW With Alex Wagner    News/Business. Alex Wagner.  
   Forces driving the day's stories. New.  

    February 22, 2013
    9:00 - 10:00am PST  

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how much can you squeeze the american medal class? it's friday, february 22nd, and this is "now." joining me today former dnc communications director and msnbc political analyst karen finney, sam stein is the political editor and white house correspondent for the huffington post and someone who is very, very close to having 2,000 twitter followers, financial columnist and assistant editor julian tett is here and the boy wonder of buzz feed, editor in chief. i mean, we had to -- we're never going to not -- >> boy wonder. >> you know what, boy is a relative term. democrats and republicans are gridlocked over the automatic spending cuts set to take effect seven days from now. the fundamental issue? taxes and spending. yesterday president obama called minority leader mitch mcconnell and house speaker john boehner. speaking later on the reverend
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al sharpton's radio show, the president did not sound optimistic. >> their basic view is that nothing is important enough to raise taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations, and they would prefer to see these kinds of cuts that could slow down a recovery over closing tax loopholes, and that's the thing that binds their party together at this point. >> earlier this week an n an e-mail speaker boehner's office pledged support for closing loopholes but not as a we to reduce the deficit. creating jobs remains our top priority in the house. we believe the revenue generated from eliminating these carve-outs should be used to lower rates around the board, but will lowering tax rates create a stronger american middle class, a morrow bust economy? fans of history, facts, and economic data question the merits of trickle down
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economics. since ronald reagan took office, the government has eased the tax burden on the wealthiest americans. the result of three decades of tax cutting, according to a cbo report that republicans tried desperately to kill, "there is not conclusive evidence to substantiate a clear relationship between the 65-year steady reduction in the top tax rates and economic growth." so what is the legacy of the last three decades? staggering income disparity. the average household income has skyrocketed for the top 1% far outpacing the modest gains by the bottom 99%. in 2010 93% of income gains went to the top 1%. in 2011 the average .01%er made $23 million. that same year the average member of the bottom 90% made $30,000. according to the washington post given the gaping difference in income, it was hard to graph the disparity on the same chart. the past month and a half has shown just how vulnerable the
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middle and working class remain. as lawmakers battled over the bush tax cuts for the higher earners, the payroll tax cut extension expired without fanfare. that means a loss of roughly $15 a week for a family earning $40,000 a year. wal-mart felt the impact immediately. its sales have stalled since january, and the company has had its worst month in seven years. one internal e-mail from a wall mart senior vice president read, "where are all the customers? and where's their money? where is their money? wul mart's example shows us clearly how little there was to begin with. george packard writes in "the new yorker, "america's vast population of working poor can only get so poor before even wal-mart is out of reach." sam, this is something i feel fairly strongly about, which is the story of income equality -- inequality in this country and how little attention has been paid to it in the debate over taxes and spending. i mean, think, you could say republicans would look and say, see, we should have extended the
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payroll tax cut. what we should have done is perhaps paid more attention to the situation that the poor and working class in america are in at present, which is to say $15 is a difference between being able to buy something and not. that 46.2 million americans are living at the poverty line. that one in three families in this country are basically at the poverty level. yet, you know, the payroll tax cut, there was no debate over that. the biggest issue was the bush tax cut. >> it's funny. i think in january it's a microcosm for what we're debating right now. we actually had an increase -- a government increase in money in january. we decrease the deficit over the course -- because of the payroll tax cut, but we also hurt a lot of people, and we hurt ourselves economically, and we have fewer customers who have expendable incomes. what are we going to do going forward? are we going to try to pursue a deficit reduction strategy at the cost potentially of more -- of greater income for people who want to spend money, or are we going to actually do something for the economy? i find it a very frustrating
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debate for the reasons you listed, but also, you know, it's dominated our political system for two years now. we've been talking about deficit reduction for two years, and we've ignored issues like staggering incomen equality among americans. it's very frustrating. >> from the viewpoint of "the financial times" here, there is no real argument about how -- i mean, you focus on the deficit reduction theme has become the thing that our government is most focused on, right? yet, this is sort of a systemic failure in terms of wage stagnation and the american economy writ large, which is to say going into the future, if you don't have a robust middle class, that's damning for an economy. >> listen, alex, i share your frustration with the current debate about revenue increases and how that's going to happen. i also share your very deep alarm and very correct alarm about the income inequality in america, but here's the issue. i don't think you necessarily should alie the two things together because although the tax policies have been one
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factor that have been driving income inequality, there are very structural differences -- very important structural changes in the american economy which are also creating this income inequality, and that needs to be addressed as well. in particular, the american economy the last couple of decades due to the competition from elsewhere has increasingly been seeing lousy jobs and lovely jobs. you've got a tiny elite of highly skilled workers who are basically taking all the gains of productivity increase sxdz you have a lot of workers who are basically doing terrible jobs and the middle have been squeezed. that, in addition to tax policy, has been driving this gap, but it's something that policy makers need to think about. >> we have to chip at that. the president in his state of the union proposed a federal minimum wage of $9 an hour. it's not going to pass, obviously, because republicans don't support it, but there are ways to chip at it from a policy standpoint. we can't ignore the policy realm. >> particularly at a time when wages are not keeping pace with inflation, so that also has contributed disparity.
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there's an interesting piece in usa today about wal-mart pointing out that they actually did very well last year because of tax breaks, but, yet, this year they're freaking out because, why? customers don't have money. to me that is the fund mental conundrum. do you want your tax breaks, or do you want your customers? because the livhood of your business is going to depend on customers who have the income to come in and buy your products. >> it's also -- i mean, i think it's about an -- it's about strengthening the middle class in a more systemic fashion, right? it's nice -- payroll tax cut is good if it gives you $15 more dollars, but you shouldn't be at that point. if we have half of this country at or near poverty where a bad utility bill or the expiration of the payroll tax credit pushes you into a different economic bracket, changes your consumer behavior patterns, i mean, that shows a bigger problem with how close to the edge american families are living. >> completely agree. we're never going to get there when those folks are considered takers, right? when the conversation goes to this very extreme rhetoric about
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makers and takers. i mean, consider that the gop message on the one hand they're saying we need to be talking about the middle class more. we know we need to do that. we need to change those talking points, but in the sequester conversation have they said anything about the middle class? no. they've been talking -- they won't even talk about what tax breaks they would be willing -- oop holes they would be willing to close at the benefit of the middle class. they won't even say the word middle class. >> i think karen has a great point. the republican party is in the middle of this soul searching, but like they can't sort it out this week, and it's march 1st in a couple of days, and in the meantime, really what they've got is this internal politics around tax cuts where the house leadership -- the leadership see noz way to sell any kind of revenues to the membership, and they haven't figured out this new set of policies that they kind of in theory know they need to start pitching that really are about this middle class -- this squeezed medal dallas both parties. >> what's fascinating is that the first foot they put forward was about jobs.
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they said we are focused solely on job creation. they understand that's where they need to be. if you looked at the cbo director's testimony about sequestration, it would cost jobs. there is a did hes connect there. >> fundamentally, they believe the roots of jobs is tax cutting, and the other cbo report says there is no -- there is no -- >> they recognize they have to go somewhere. it's just the difficulty of figuring out the means to get there. >> what's clear, though, is looking at the story of wal-mart this week. in fact, you wonder about the middle class. it's the fragility of the american economy right now, and the sheer fragility of many households in terms of their spending hour, and the fact that simply the payroll tax increases could have had that much damage that quickly is very sobering when you think about what's at stake right now in terms of sequestration. >> that is seen that wal-mart and its total disaster of a reporting month in february is maybe seen as a bellweather for how the economy is going to be doing for the rest of the year. i do want to talk about sort of the big picture here, and i quoted george packard and his piece in "the new yorker" at the beginning of the show, and i
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will again because i think it's a powerful comment. he writes owe the roosevelt republic when a social contract underwrote american life. it included a strong middle class, strong safety net, high marginal tax rates, a while male -- in the decades since the mid 1970s, you could call it the reagan republic, but i prefer the unwinding, the social contract has frayed to the point of disintegration." that's -- that i think is a very astute observation and is perhaps at the root of a lot of this. >> not just has the social contract completely fallen apart. again, until i would say this year we haven't even been having an honest conversation about the demographics of this country and what the social contract should look like, right? one of the things i contend about the republicans is that when they keep attacking government, they forget that probably more people have had a positive experience with some kind of government or have some kind of need for government than maybe in the past, and so their relationship to government is not the same as during the reagan years, so when you attack and people say, wait a second, my pell grant, my medicare, my
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medicaid, my social security, i mean, it's a -- this whole government is the enemy, reagan era attack is not going to work. >> i have a different take than that. i think the past years have shown anything, that the social contract is very strong. there's been ample opportunity to cut it, and every time lawmakers have basically bucked. this week rick scott, who is a sworn enemy of obama care, signed off on a huge expacks of medicaid that will cover million plus floridians, very low income florians. >> how about expeaed ensy. >> that was my point. >> that's not doing it because of a social contract. >> that is the backbone of the social contract is that its political. >> let me also say the polls show that americans want to -- >> get into it but never quite delivered on was how do you then adjust that for the industrial revolution that's taken place over the last 15 or 20 years and totally changed this economy for which the contract was built.
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>> look at the hostility. president obama was right to talk about head start and how we start kids out and make sure that we actually have kids who are able to grow into the jobs of future that we need, and that was met with hostility and people have laughed it off and said that's never going to happen, we're never going to spend -- that's part of the social contract. why is it that african-americans, latinos, people of color are getting further and further behind. that says that the social contract is failing to keep up with the reality of this country. >> and, jillian, he puts it bsh packard puts it in the context of business specifically. before it was general electric and i can't remember what the other -- sort of uses two examples. now we are caught between wal-mart, which is the lowest prices for the least pay, and apple, which is kind of an elite, high consumer culture located on the coasts. >> absolutely. >> we've lost the sense of the middle in between. >> it's back to lovely jobs and lousy jobs. to me one of the most interesting conversations i had recently was with the head of a large retail group in america that they've recently seen a big
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change many consumer behavior in that if you go back five years, essentially you can see spending the same amount throughout the month. now they're seeing real peeks and troughs because as you come towards payday, people are running out of money, and it comes back to this point about middle class fragility, and as a result this retailer is changing the way of managing its stock and insuring it's trying to get all it can about the pay cycles and it's really planning for these short-term hand to mouth existence that increasingly is a reality, tragically, for many middle class americans families. >> the national retail federation did a sur vaf the affects of the payroll tax cut. 73% of consumers plan to spend less. that's a pretty staggering figure given the lack of discussion around the expiration of the tax cut and its profound effects. >> it's no reason -- >> absolutely nothing. >> we have to leave it there, but after the break, in the era of modern politics, what is the role of the fourth estate? we'll discuss transparency, access, and fake headlines when chris hayes joins us for up now.
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it is one of the first rules of journalism. don't become the story. this week the press had a hard time staying out of the headlines. exhibit a. the problem over bright bart's friends of hamas story. the one suggesting chuck hagel may have accepted donation from a terrorist group that does not exist. the story was later debunked, but only before it bounced around sites like red state and the national view and drew
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attention from rand paul who said it's very tunnel trouble, and i've just seen the press report, to i'm about to have to look at what the response is and what the group is, and that kind of thing. it's very concerning. he's going to have to respond to this. >> jay carney made light of the foe controversy at yesterday's briefing when asked if huhhingel would withdraw his no, ma'am nation nation. >> absolutely not. if my suggestion to the -- might have been found in the meetings of the friends of hamas. >> the white house too found itself on the defensive this week accused of withholding by a press corps fed up with its limited access after the press's weekend golfing trip to florida. said white house correspondent association president ed henry, says this is a fight for more access. "it's not about golf. it's about transparency and access in a broader sense. the white house strategy is shutting out the papers of record in favor of softer media environments and direct messaging via social media has not gone unnoticed. the washington post reports when obama does media interviews these days, it's not with a
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newspaper. tv gets the bulk of the president's personal attention from his frequent appearances on "60 minutes" to mtv to chit chats with local stations around the country. obama may be the least newspaper-friendly president in a generation. "the post's" last interview with the president? 2009. the wall street journal? 2009. the "new york times". s 2010. the l.a. times and boston globe, never. his hometown papers, amazingly, no love for chitown. a big fat sfwler. here now to discuss the fourth estate is part of our weekly up now extravaganza, mr. chris hayes. >> how are you, alex? >> i'm great. so, chris, let's talk first about -- let's go in reverse order here. in terms of the white house and the question of transparency, where do you -- where do you sit on this? i notice you were reacting to those statistics, and didn't know whether it was indig nation or shut your trap, white house press corps. >> there's a lot of -- i think it's actually a complicated story. first of all, yes, he gives less interviews to newspapers.
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newspapers are less important. i mean, to say that he is the least newspaper-friendly president in a generation, american consumers are the least newspaper-friendly consumers in a generation. >> we are also waiting for our presidential interviews. >> right. >> that actually is the broader point is that he has had far fewer press conferences than any president many recent memory, and he is not particularly -- >> i don't think that's true. >> i thinks, yes. less fewer than about george w. bush. i had the number somewhere. perhaps our control room can get it. in terms of his availability to the press and we have some folks who i think can attest to that. sam, you are -- >> i am a member -- i am a member of the white house correspondence association. i have not gotten an interview. you know my e-mail address. i do think there's an access problem. i'm not sure about the statistic on press conferences, but, lisp, access and transparency -- >> two extremely different things. >> i think there's a problem with both. it's not about golf. screw golf. golf is an idiotic way to start
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this fight. >> that to me is what is so revealing. >> i understand it. it's dumb. it's about big things like drones. it's about, you know, opening up the process of health care. when you made a promise during the campaign that you were going to have proceedings on c-span, you have to be held to some sort of standard. >> i totally agree with that, but wropt to dmros over too lightly on where they chose to plant their flag and when the white house correspondence association wrote their letter they were frustrated. what were they frustrated about? they were frustrated they didn't get a picture of tiger woods and the president. the reason they were frustrated is because that would have been traffic and it would have been a lot of news, and everyone would have talked about it. does the president want to be seen with tiger woods? tiger woods did all those horrible things. oh, my god, now tiger woods and the president are together. what does that say about blah blah blah? >> one of the things that's really at stake here is that the white house is choosing to use social media and other forms of nontrifshl journalism because they know that's how information is going around society to a greater and greater degree. >> my point -- let me just
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finish this point. you can see it's about drones, right? yes, actually. there's an olc memo that finds tremendously dubious constitutional reasoning for why the u.s. government can kill without due process an american sit sdmren, right? ed henry didn't write a letter about that. heck, i don't know if ed henry is -- reporters at the "new york times" have, right? where do you plant your flag and that shows what your values are. you can't walk back and say this is also about drones. if it's about drones, then go after him on drones. don't do it. >> the tiger woods picture should certainly be sdret? >> why? >> i agree it's ain't federal case. >> i just don't care. why do you care? >> you're putting a lot of -- >> why do you care? >> you are putting a lot of the onus on the reporters' side. ben's point is the white house side. what is the big deal? what is the big deal? what is the big deal? from the white house percent period of time, why do they not just have one photo? why do they -- >> this is the trip to pay golf.
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is the security for the balls if i can't take a picture? i don't think they're -- i agree it's not a big deal, but it is a reflex to not show the public things that they're paying for. >> here's the vicious cycle that i think everyone is locked in. there's a huge collective action problem, right? >> yes. >> the more competitive everything gets, the more there's always going to be some outlet that will accept the restraints and say we'll not name you. that's a huge problem. that has to be dealt with collectively because there's always going to be some competitor who will sell you out, but let me say this. about this idea of, you know, why not the pictures, right? there is this kind of vicious cycle i think which is as access gets restricted, then when you do have access, you look for the thing that is going to maximize hits or traffic or buzz. that means looking for the thing that is the most controversial and so back and forth that goes because when they do grant access, then it's everyone is he is golfing with tiger woods. does the president hate women? then that's going to be the story, and the white house is going to say of course we shouldn't have shown you the picture. >> chris, you will take a
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photograph on an iphone. someone who is there on the golf course, post it on the internet, and suddenly it's viral anyway. >> or more specifically, you can have your propaganda photographer take pictures, release the flicker and control the president's image in a way that feels transparent, feels like images, but it is totally controlled. i think that's why the photographers are upset. >> there is a major collective action problem, and it's an institutional problem that the press corps has, which is ideally we all bandy together and pren protect our own interests, and boycott some press conference they want to disseminate news and that will never happen because everyone wants to be the person who gets the scoop. >> we started talking about the bright bart thing, and i think there's an interlinkage which is to say the atrophying through journalistic missi iic muscle. i think when you have a white house that is so loathe to interact with the mainstream media where i cannot tell you how many times we have played clips of obama talking about the drone program on the daily show because that's the best piece of
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sound we have. >> at some point that's -- >> that's a choice that they make. >> sure. >> not to go to the papers of record where honestly he will face some tougher questions. >> i can't get anyone from the white house ever to come on my show ever ever. >> and pi -- we talk about bright bart and say, oh, conservative media, there's no rigor there. the new yorker has a pretty fair, i think, assessment. i will read this. friends of hamas and andrew bright bart. at best reporting is like science. you form a hypothesis and you try to prove it. this, unfortunately, is a lesson that a certain part of the conservative media doesn't i'm e seem to have learned yet. we're talking about reporting of facts -- or, sorry, of rumors and not facts, and i think once we have this sort of playing field where rigor and journalistic integrity and asking tough questions is no longer the order of the day, then this kind of journalism is -- >> what i loved about that story was when they -- when he heard about the -- when he heard about the friends of hamas. he didn't go to google to see if
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this was a terrorist group or any watch list. he went to the white house and said can you confirm this. the white house now has to be the fact checker for this purpose. that's an absurd. >> in the old days somebody might have printed this in a hand newsletter or something like that, but now i think there's this -- if you are a reporter, you're operating in an environment where the readers have seen all this stuff. say like some of the menendez reporting on the right, which may well be true, which they went with when it felt 75%, where i wouldn't have been comfortable with that level of confirmation, but it dent look totally bogus. what do you do? do you ignore it? >> you have a race to the bottom problem. you have a race to the problem -- >> is it the bottom? it's a race to readers seeing inside the reporting process. >> it's friends of hamas. it's the bottom. that's the problem where. >> on alex's point on the new yorker and trying to punch holes in the stories. the good news, if you like, is if some of the reporters aren't doing that anymore because they're playing to their own
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audience, the collective of the internet and the fact that you have the bloggosphere today means you can punch holes in other people's stories much faster. if you want to be optimistic, what the story shows is actually there is a lot of checks and balances. there are lots of checks and balances today in the media, and -- >> the hole wasn't punched quick enough so a republican senator couldn't raise questions. say -- >> that means -- it's a problem. >> the problem increasingly is the white house retains monopoly power, right? there's only one sxwhoushgs they control what the white house does. the press used to be largely an ologopolistic enterprise that they could do although things that they do. as that becomes more competitive, that competition creates its own dynamics, and those competitive dynamics do not affect the white house because the white house -- >> you're going deeper than i ever thought. >> that is the problem. that's the fundamental
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asymmetry. >> so clarify, president obama in his first term held fewer press conferences than bill clinton, george h.w. bush, or george w. bush. >> really. that doesn't surprise me at all. >> we know that he did have an off the record sitdown yesterday with some members of the news media off the record. maybe one day that will be on the record. >> the reverend al sharpton just interviewed him, and al will be on my show this sunday when we have this discussion. >> by proxy you are intifg the white house. >> that's about as close as i go. i basically said can you get me someone who has talked to the president? >> there are a lot of stewards. >> that seems -- >> chris, you're going to be talking more about this this weekend on "up." sfwla yes, excitedly. >> i can see. >> the theories abound. thank you as always, my friend, for joining us. >> be sure to catch chris on "up" this and every weekend on msnbc at 8:00 a.m. eastern. coming up, politics on the sell ver screen. hollywood took on some heavy
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topics to entertain us this year. we will talk to the legendary james lipton about this year's best next on "now." ♪ [ female announcer ] almost nothing can dampen a baby's mood, when he wakes up dry in pampers. unlike other diapers, pampers has 3 absorbent layers, for up to 12 hours of protection overnight, and more beautiful mornings. ♪ pampers. peaceful nights. playful days. plays a key role throughout our lives. one a day men's 50+ is a complete multivitamin designed for men's health concerns as we age. it has 7 antioxidants to support cell health. one a day men's 50+.
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♪ things are definitely looking up. [ male announcer ] with no blackout dates, you can use your citi thankyou points to travel whenever you want. visit citi.com/thankyoucards to apply. it's hollywood's glitziest night of the year. i can't believe i actually said that. i feel like i'm on the red carpet. with themes including torture, race relations, and middle east turmoil among the best picture nominees, there is quite a bit to unpack. we'll go inside the oscar studio with master they say pean james lipton next on "now." mom always got good nutrition to taste great. she was a picky eater. well now i'm her dietitian and last year, she wasn't eating so well. so i recommended boost complete nutritional drink to help her get the nutrition she was missing. and now she drinks it every day. well, it tastes great! [ male announcer ] boost has 26 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin d to support strong bones,
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are not light fare. all of the mrimz touched on serious issues relating to policy, politics, and history. there was torture in "zero dark thirty." >> can i be honest with you? i have bad news. i'm not your friend. i'm not going to help you. i'm going break you. any questions? >> in "argo" there was geopolitical crisis and turmoil in the middle east. >> the actions of iran have shocked the civilized world. >> let's go. let's go. >> our embassy has been seized and more than 60 american citizens continue to be held as hostages. >> if we're going to go there, we need to go now. >> there was civil war, congressional drama, and the fracturing of a nation in "lincoln." >> we here highly resolve that
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these dead shall not have died in vein. that this nation under god shall have a new birth of freedom, that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth. >> there was race and america's violent history in "django unchained." >> inventory led me to believe that you have a specimen i'm keen to acquire. >> what's your name? ♪ >> django. >> there was mental illness in "silver linings playbook." >> it's something that you did before or after? >> yeah, about a week before the incident i called the cops, and i told them that my wife and the history guy were plotting against me by embezzling money from the local high school, which wasn't true. it was a delusion. we later found out from the hospital it's because i'm -- >> undiagnosed bipolar.
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>> yeah. >> there was environmental catastrophe in "beasts of a southern wild." >> the whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. if one piece bursts, even the smallest piece, the entire universe will get burst. >> there was class warfare and social injustice in "les mis." ♪ >> whoever said hollywood was an empty vessel? here now to discuss his oscar thoughts, inside the actors studio host james lipton. mr. lipton, it is always an honor and a pleasure to have you on this set zoosh my honor. >> can we begin, please, if you will, with "zero dark thirty?"
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this is -- there is -- there are controversial aspects to all these films as we just noted, but "zero dark thirty" is one of those films where there has been political intrigue, quite literally. the senate intelligence committee, including dianne feinstein, john mccain, and carl levin wrote letters protesting the use of torture or the depiction of torture in the film. naomi wolf called the preliminarymakers apologists for evil, and screen writer said the film was hijacked for political purposes. what did you make of the film in terms of touching on a very incendiary topic? >> it's a very, very well made film. beautifully directed. my problem with the film is what you describe. namely that the -- look, a few years ago those scenes that you saw, the torture scenes, would they have been played? would the roles have been reversed? the bad guys, the ones who are doing the torturing would have been played as nazis, as communists, or as terrorists.
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you would never have seen those scenes played the way they were with the fine impartial at here. when the picture takes that attitude towards p torture, this sort of neutrality towards torture, it takes a position, and for it implies that's what led to the capture of osama bin laden. >> i will read an excerpt, ben, from catherine bigalow. she's the director of the film. she writes, "those of us that work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement. if it was, no artist would be able to paint inhumane practices, no author could write about them, and no filmmaker cou could delve into the thorny subjects of our time." the counter argument is we have to depict these to bring it to the fore. >> they were so surprised when people argued about it and we're not sure. they should be really sure. if they weren't sure, maybe that -- there could have been
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other things in the movie. >> that's part of the problem i had with the controversy about it is that regardless -- even if it had led to osama bin laden, if if that's true, we don't torture. that's not who we are. more importantly, it is a part of this story. whether we like it or not. i think that's what we're all most uncomfortable with. how it's depicted, one way or the other, we still have to deal with -- >> that's really a matter of controversy. they were then not prepared to make the case. >> it is -- but it is a film. i mean, should the bigger point be we are against torture, period. right? >> the reality is the story of what's been happening in that part of the world is very, very fwra. i mean, as someone who has lived there for many years. if her goal was to try and get people to think and to talk about what's going on and get beyond this very childish division between goodies and baddies, black, white, then she has succeeded. >> except that she's not a lecturer right now talking about it. >> find it strange. in terms of provoking a conversation, it's succeeded
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brilliantly. >> two of the greatest films ever made, among the greatest films ever made are d.w. griffith and birth of a nation which celebrates the birth of the ku klux klan, and it led the way for all of us who followed her from that 1934 film. both of them are despicable. the question then is there -- is the relationship between art and politics such that a film can be dismissed or a work of art can be dismissed because we don't like its subject? that is a really, really deep and serious question. i'm not condemning the film. i am saying that personally as a veteran i would -- it occurred to me more than once in my lifetime that i might be captured, right? if you are captured, you would hate to be taken into a torture chamber and said you guys do it, we're iffing to do it too. that's the problem with torture. it leads to the same type of treatment to our own troops. even the nazis didn't do it, but there were jewish-american
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soldiers that were captured and who were in prison camps and never taken out and tortured. there are rules of law. rules of war that i think are violated by what this film looks at, again, as we all agree with a fine impartiality. it can turn into an endorsement. that's the problem with it. should she have done it? of course she should have done it. she should have done it exactly as she wished. art for art's sake. that's the mgm motto. it's not an argument we can settle at this desk, but it is a legitimate argument, as you pointed out, and an interesting one, and a difficult one. it's never been solved. this won't solve it, but it allows me to say that for that reason i am put off by the picture. i'm disturbed by it. >> in terms of, like, the great debate and argument over policy and mrekz, i want to talk about "lincoln" because that is -- a lot of people, well, privately, anecdotally think of that as a frontrunner. what's interesting about the timing of "lincoln" is it comes
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against this back drop of dysfunction and partisan behavior in washington, behavior being a uephamistic term. i think this speilberg is showing us that america has had a bit of a crossroads in times past, and we've gotten through it through some combination of great leadership and dealmaking and sometimes that's above board. steams that's below board. this is a country of clashing ideas, and we've gotten through it all. >> films take a long time to make. he has been working on this film for how many years, a dozen years. when he set out to make this film, he didn't anticipate that the congress would turn into something that it has turned into. he wasn't anticipating -- it's not a question of movies reflecting life. life has begun to reflect the movies. that's neither his fault nor to his credit. it just happened to work out that way. >> david brooks writes lincoln, it shows you can do more good in politics than in any other sphere. you can end slavery, open opportunity, and fight poverty. you can achieve these things only if you are willing to stain your own character in order to save others, if you are willing
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to bamboozle, be slippery and hip critical? >> that's the great question we've asked ourselves over and over again. this film asks the question. do the ends justify the means? that's what this one is about. is it a well made film? speilberg, he is a genius. he is one of the greatest film makers of all time sfwloosh it's daniel day lewis who has done an incredible -- i'm short selling the performance. >> it's thought provoking. given what is happening at this time it has provoked a lot of conversation, and, you know, to me one of the things that it shows, there's always going to be compromise. to your point, we have clashing of ideas. at least then there was a pretty clear idea where we were trying to go. now it's, you know, we want answers about talking points. we want -- it's less clear to me what we're trying to accomplish with those clashes. >> it's also interesting if you look at the totally of films that are up for oscars this year, unlike earlier periods of economic stress like 1930s, what essentially hollywood was about
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escapism, what we're seeing is people addressing serious issues even in the middle of real economic challenges. >> right. in the 1930s, though, they knew what they were escaping from. the issue -- no, it's true. they were clear cut, those issues, and the mrekz of the 1930 films is fascinating because what it did was it got us through the depression. >> and now we are taking ourselves through two hours and 45 minutes of torture on the sell ver screen. we actually have to take a break, but when we come back, we will discuss silver lining's playbook and talk about "argo" and "les mis." so many other things. stay tuned. introducing new febreze stick & refresh with command strips from 3m. designed to stick and eliminate odors anywhere. like this overflowing trashcan. to test it, we brought in the scott family. so what do you smell? beach house and you're looking out over the ocean. some place like, uh, hawaii in like a flower field. take your blindfolds off.
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of the most over the top -- a beautiful film to watch, although the reviews have been somewhat mixed when you talk to the gentleman at the end of this table, but "les mis" which, again, is we're talking about social justice and class warfare. these are films in the political spectrum very much on display on the big screen. >> one of the reasons i like "les mis" so much is it is, in fact, a revolution. it's about a revolution, and it is a revolution. they're singing live. these people are doing something nobody has ever done before. for nearly 100 years it's the insinges of sound. people have been singing to roarings, right, and they make before they go on set. this time actually these people were singing live, and the accompanyists were accompanying them. with the result they were able to give acting performians like ann hathaway's and hugh jackman that are unique in film. >> i would argue that the singing part might have been
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part of the problem. >> you did not like the singing. >> there are those that think it's part of the problem, and there are those that think it was a terrific thing to do. for me i have read the book and seen both broadway musicals. for me watching actors over the years lip-synch, not even to their own voices -- >> natalie wood and "west side story." >> they're nice and beautiful and their faces are not distorted. they're not singing. i like to go to the theater where i see what's happening, where there's risk. >> visceral. >> what was judy garland's great talent, you never knew if she would make it to the end of the song. that's part of singing. >> that's ben smith. >> that's the xeemt of singing. >> in terms of excitement and also sort of taking on subject matter that has been maybe tab your, silver lining's playbook talks about bipolar disorder, something we've been having a national conversation on, which is mental health. bradley cooper is one of your former students, mr. lipton. you are a great --
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>> bradley cooper, i was so dean. i'm so damn proud of it. we're now -- i admitted him for his mfa. we trapd him, and we are so proud of him. i cannot gipp begin to describe it. he is a wonderful actor in comedy, in drama, and he is proving it now. i'm so proud of him. >>ly also give a shout-out to jennifer lawrence, who also has some sort of bipolar disorder sfwloosh she's probably going to win an oscar. sthoo she's fantastic in that film. we have to take a break, but we will have our final oscar picks next on "now." all right that's a fifth-floor problem... ok. not in my house! ha ha ha! ha ha ha! no no no! not today! ha ha ha! ha ha ha!
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>> thank you to james lipton, who will be live blogging the oscars for aol.com at 7:00 p.m. eastern. you will be blogging for four
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hours. >> with five million people. >> that is -- the cat bird's seat. your pick for best picture. >> argo. >> argo. mr. lipton. >> lincoln squeaks past argo. >> lincoln squeaks past. dark horse. well, sort of. >> "lincoln." >> i'm going to go with beast of the southern wild because i think it was the best picture of the year. >> you're going to be wropg. >> thank you to everyone on my panel. i'll see you back here monday at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific when i'm joined by michael steel, howard wolfson, eric baits, and jacob weissburg. until then you can find us at facebook.com/now with alex, and andrea mitchell reports is coming up next. introducing new febreze stick & refresh with command strips from 3m. designed to stick and eliminate odors anywhere. like this overflowing trashcan. to test it, we brought in the scott family. so what do you smell? beach house and you're looking out over the ocean. some place like, uh, hawaii in like a flower field. take your blindfolds off.
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aw man! [ screams ] [ laughs ] that smells good. i wouldn't even just put it in the trash, i'd put it in every room. stick it to eliminate odors anywhere. new febreze stick & refresh. breathe happy. [ bop ] [ bop ] [ bop ] you can do that all you want, i don't like v8 juice. [ male announcer ] how about v8 v-fusion. a full serving of vegetables, a full serving of fruit. but what you taste is the fruit. so even you... could've had a v8.
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